It was 7pm in the evening, we had been ‘Confined to Barracks’ all day as it hadn’t stopped raining since getting up in the morning, I stood at the window by the Motorhome door enjoying a cigarette and looked upon the swimming pool forming outside. It would be easy to complain about the weather, not being able to get out and enjoy ourselves, being couped up all day. But watching the News night after night seeing all the unfortunate people in the UK having lost their homes to the floods and many losing their livelihoods as well, it certainly puts things into perspective doesn’t it ? As well as helping these people now, in their hour of need, wouldn’t it also be nice if these highly paid environment and Water company executives could find a way of diverting all this surplus water into some sort of underground (or overland) repository, because as sure as eggs are eggs, come the summer there will be draughts and hose pipe bans, because our reservoirs will be short of water!! Surely when they improve the flood defence systems on the ‘at risk’ rivers they could engineer some sort of ‘overflow’ system that would carry the surplus to a ‘giant’ holding tank the way that gardeners collect rain water in ‘water butts’ but on a much larger scale ?
Although the pitches were gravel Hardstanding they were surrounded by grass, grass which was so waterlogged that it could no longer soak up anymore rain, it didn’t help that it had continued to rain quite heavily all through the night and by the morning our ‘swimming pool’ was complete !
Although we only had one day left we opted to re-locate to a dryer ‘pitch’, Silver screen removed, EHU cable unplugged and reverse off our levelling blocks and that was it, we found a vacant ‘pitch’ just around the corner but decided for the sake of one day that we could manage with the ever so slight slope forward, so we didn’t bother putting ‘Big Momma’ up on levelling blocks again. EHU cable re-attached to our power bollard, silver screen re-fitted and hey presto we were settled in again. The sun was shining, when there was rare break in the thick white clouds that is, but it had no real warmth to it, the biting wind was the dominating factor today, but at least it had stopped raining !! After a less than active day yesterday, and this being our last day in this rather nice location, we elected for another walk in the park. So after a late breakfast of hot bacon rolls, yes, Shazza’s home-made bread rolls, we got well wrapped up and headed off.
Even though the cold was biting at our exposed faces it was nice to just be out walking together. This is what this ‘lifestyle’ was all about for ‘us’, spending quality time together, not necessarily doing anything spectacular, just being together. Don’t ask me what we talked about, it didn’t matter, we were actually just enjoying the ‘freedom’ and feeling lucky enough to have been able to have been in a position to live this ‘lifestyle’ now whilst we were both still young enough and fit enough to enjoy it.
The man on the TV delivering the weather forecast informed his viewers that this was ‘The Wettest Winter on Record’, I remember thinking “No shit Sherlock”, as if the people stood knee-deep in river water in their houses didn’t already know that !! However, it is not just those flooded out, or those being battered by excessively high Coastal tides that are being affected ! This weather is having an impact on us as well, and no, not just because there are days when we are ‘Confined to Barracks’. You may recall in an earlier post that I stated that some of our time is consumed with planning on where we are going to travel to next, well that involves finding places to stay. Of course there are numerous Campsites, CL’s and CS’s that are ‘Open All Year’ and we have numerous resources to research to find such places. However, a large majority of these ‘Open All Year’ locations have just ‘grass’ pitches, not really suitable for pitching on in the ‘Wettest Winter on Record’ !! So now our choices are dramatically reduced. Another factor that we hadn’t considered was the number of people who are actually out in their Caravans or Motorhomes at this time of year !!
We already knew that we would have to return North yet again to get the car Serviced and MOT’d, but we would again be utilising the generosity of Sharon’s Mum for a few days, no problems there then. But we had to plan beyond that, we had twenty-nine days before we were due at our ‘Elf and Elfette’ Training Course, this was a five-day course and we had been notified that we would be accommodated in a hotel for the duration, so that meant that once again we would have to return to Doncaster to leave ‘Big Momma’ and travel to the South East in ‘Wuxly’, so our travel plans had to take that into consideration. We had hoped that we could have attended the course in ‘Big Momma’ which would have saved having to return North yet again. Also within those twenty-nine days we had promised to return to Swindon to see Chris and Sarah, fortuitously we could combine this trip with a visit to the Doctors Surgery in Swindon where we were both still registered. But there were logistical issues with this, we could not park outside Chris and Sarah’s house as it was on one of those new modern estates, the ones where they cram terraced houses in with coach houses and as such no nice big gardens with drives to park cars on, let alone thirty-foot Motorhomes and they lived on the Southern side of the town. Shazza was only able to arrange the Doctors appointment for mid-week, the surgery being located on the North East side of the town, plus there is nowhere near the surgery to park ‘Big Momma’. Chris and Sarah, both being employed in the retail trade, only get one day off in the week and that varies from week to week so we needed to find somewhere to stay that was local to the Doctors and which hopefully had ‘Public Transport’, so that we could get into the town to meet up with Chis and Sarah !
The other logistical problem was that I also wanted to see my daughter Stacey, whom I had last seen at the beginning of September last year, when she came to collect her possessions from where they had been stored for the last six years, namely our loft !! She lived in Salisbury but she was house sharing and again there was nowhere to park ‘Big Momma’ so we again needed a place to stay that had ‘Public Transport’, and oh yes, she worked all week and occasionally over the weekends so we could only get to meet up with her on Saturday 15th February !!
Now I hope that you are all keeping up with this ? There was just one other small matter that had to be included in the equation, for those of you who have been following my ‘ramblings’ and our travels religiously, you may remember a small problem that I had with the controller on ‘my’ electric bicycle whilst at ‘Vila Real’ in Portugal. Yes I know that I had told you that I had fixed it, and I had, and it wasn’t as if I didn’t have any faith in my own DIY skills but the truth of the matter is ‘Shazza doesn’t have any faith in my DIY skills’ !! So, when we leave Sharon’s mums again, and being so close to where the firm is that we purchased the bicycles from, it seemed only logical to call in and get them to replace my very capably ‘repaired’ controller with a brand new one. So as you can see from all of this, we do have a sort of a rough itinerary, now we just need to make the necessary arrangements !
The nice chap at ‘Batribike’ was very accommodating, he was happy for us to call in to his workshop premises on the day we leve Doncaster, he informed us that there was plenty of space in his ‘yard’ to park ‘Big Momma’, and what’s more, if he was unable to replace the new controller the same day, he was happy to let us stay overnight in the van in his secure yard and he would even provide us with an electric hook up ! So, first part of the logistical itinerary sorted, although we still needed a night-stop reserve just in case he did manage to repair the bicycle on the same day. No real problems there, it was not far away from the Camping site at ‘Cromwell’ where we had stayed recently on a couple of occasions, they always seemed to have some empty ‘pitches’ so if needs be, we would take the gamble and just turn up. From there we needed to find a place for a few days before travelling to a ‘site’ we had discovered from our resources, which was near Salisbury, and which as fortune would have it, had a bus stop near the site where we could take a bus into Salisbury City Centre. We decided to leave looking for the ‘in-between’ stop until we had secured a ‘pitch’ on the near Salisbury site. The lady who answered the phone was very friendly but deeply apologetic, she was ‘fully booked’ most weekends and had no Hardstandings where she could accommodate us !! Now that was a real bummer, we had already looked at several other Sites and CL/CS’s in the area, they were either ‘all grass’ pitches, fully booked or there was no ‘Public Transport’ nearby, now we needed a ‘new plan’ !!
A new plan was quickly hatched and Shazza spoke to another very nice man, this one though didn’t own a Campsite or a CL/CS but worked at the local Salisbury ‘Park & Ride’ bus depot. He advised us which, out of the five ‘Park & Ride’ locations that there were around the City, had a ‘Coach Park’ facility where we would be able to leave ‘Big Momma’, the others were for cars and vans only and had ‘height barriers’. He also advised that it was secure parking with CCTV cameras but told us that whilst we could park the van overnight, if we so wished, we could not sleep in the van. So, the plan is to drive there on the Saturday morning, from wherever we have stayed the night before (still to be determined), park up, catch the bus into the City, meet up with my daughter for lunch and a good ‘catch up’ natter, then get the bus back to the Park & Ride, collect ‘Big Momma’ and then proceed to whichever site it is that we have managed to get booked on to for the night !!
The next stage of the plan was to find a place near Swindon, both for Sharon’s Doctors appointment and to visit Chris and Sarah. There would however be a good few days before her appointment all so we needed to decide whether we went straight to the Swindon area or we went elsewhere ? Now it just so happened that Shazza received a couple of phone calls, out of the blue, from some of her former colleagues, all good loyal ‘blog’ readers I should add. They would be on their Half Term school holiday period, which started on the Monday, after the Saturday, that we would be at Salisbury. So this made our minds up, we would head for the Swindon area on the Saturday night and stay in the locality for a week if needs be, then Shazza could meet up with her school colleagues, get to her Doctors appointment later that week and at some point in that time we would also manage to get to see Chis and Sarah and I may also be able to see ‘Debs’ my hairdresser, who could work her magic and repair Shazza’s ‘on the road’ razor handiwork !! So all we needed to do now was find somewhere to stay.
And you were wondering just what we did with all this time on our hands eh ?
The ‘Adventure’ continues……………………….